Dear Abby: Connecting with teens affects new relationship

Dear Abby
Jeanne Philips

Dear Abby: After I ended a 20-year marriage, I took some time off from relationships and am now back in the dating world. My ex-husband and I never had children.

I recently met a man with two teenagers. He says I am “detached” from children. I am not detached! I just never had experience with them. How do I proceed with this relationship since his kids are very dear to him?

— Not Detached

Dear Not Detached: This man’s offspring are no longer “children.” They are teenagers, and teens can be complicated. Reach out to them the way you would anyone of any age. Be friendly and show them you are interested in them. If they have a mother in the picture, do not try to “mother” them. See if you share any common interests (sports, music, fashion, etc.), resist the urge to lecture them, and be a good listener.

Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: Back around 1987, a girl asked me to take her to her high school prom. I was several years older, didn’t know her well and wanted to say no but couldn’t. In the end I stood her up. I don’t even remember her name. She worked at a grocery store with my brother.

That was more than 30 years ago. I am married now and have two fine children. I was recently asked what my biggest regret is, and I said standing her up. Not one week has gone by in the last 30 years that I haven’t thought about her and wished I could find her and tell her how truly sorry I am.

It’s funny. Although I can’t remember her name, there’s no one from my past that I have thought about more than her. I would give anything to find her and apologize. It haunts me. Any suggestions?

— Biggest Regret in the South

Dear Biggest Regret: What you did to that girl was brutal. Because it’s not possible for you to directly offer the apology she deserves, concentrate harder on the present and always try to treat everyone with kindness and sensitivity.

Dear Abby: I’d like advice on how to handle a problem that crops up every time family members invite me out to a dinner they are paying for. I know the rule of etiquette is to order an item that’s the same or less than what the host is ordering, but I am often asked to order first. This means I have no idea what the payer’s meal will cost. If it means ordering something on the menu other than what I’d rather have — a burger instead of a steak — in that case, should I offer to pay for my own meal? Can I still order the steak since my offer to pay was refused?

— Likes to Follow the Rules

Dear Likes: A way to get around ordering first might be to say, “I haven’t decided yet. I’d like to hear what the others are ordering.” However, if you would be uncomfortable doing that, and your hosts won’t let you have a separate check, be a gracious guest and enjoy every bite of your steak.

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